Asda chief executive Andy Bond has warned that consumers' shopping habits will change as a result of the current downturn, with frugality set to replace frivolity over the years to come.
Bond said the money saving attitude of shoppers during the current downturn is not a "blip" and that a new generation of consumers will emerge.
He said: "Waste is becoming the enemy of the consumer. Frugal will become cool and frivolity will be unacceptable."
Bond criticised the recent move by retailers to offer various discounts in the run-up to Christmas. "It's a horrendous way to run a business," he said. "Retailers are confusing shoppers with 20% off one day, then 50% another day."
Bond admitted that Asda's non-food business was "struggling" compared to its grocery operation, but insisted that like-for-like sales at clothing brand George were still positive. "Our non-food share is only 2% so it's an open market," he said, adding that total online sales are up 80% year-on-year.
Although Bond expects 2009 to be tough for Asda, he is planning for a "reasonable" 2009.